This coming Monday is a really great day for fight fans wanting to watch some Japanese action with two free shows being made available through the promoters YouTube channel.
Amagasaki Cultural Center, Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
The more notable the shows will be streamed on the Boxing Real YouTube channel, and it's a pretty interesting show overall, even if it lacks major names.
The main event will see once touted prospect Rikito Shiba (4-1, 2) return to the ring for the first time since being stopped in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight by Masamichi Yabuki, back in December 2019. The talented 25 year old will be dipping his toes at Flyweight as he takes on the experienced Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6). On paper this is a clear mismatch, but given Shiba's confidence destroying loss to Yabuki, the 18 month lay off and the move up in weight it might not be the foregone conclusion that it looks. Watanabe, although no world beater, is a 36 year old veteran who has ran some solid domestic fighters very close in a number of his losses, including Takuya Kogawa, Naoki Mochizuki, Ryuto Oho and Yusuke Sakashita, giving him one of the most misleading records in the sport. Watanabe is expected to lose, but we expect him to give Chiba a genuine test.
The brilliantly named Condor Inaba (7-5-1, 3) looks to make a successful return to the ring himself, following a lengthy lay off, as he takes on light punching Yuga Inoue (10-2-1, 1). Inaba hasn't fought since October 2019, and although not a star in the making the 26 year old will be desperate to pick up his next win and get back on track. In the opposite corner is Inoue, no relation to Naoya and Takuma, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 but came undone against Kai Ishizawa and has moved through the weights ever since. Inoue is the more talented fighter, but we do worry for him here as he will be giving away quite a bit of size to Inaba.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will see Hibiki Jogo (10-3, 5) take on Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5). It's fair to say that international fans will not be too aware of these two men, but both are fan friendly fighters, who are happy to let their shots go, and their styles should gel really well. Jogo is a 27 year old who was last seen losing in a competitive bout to Tatsuya Takahashi and although not the biggest or strongest fighter he does have the desire to be involved in exciting contests. Ikegami on the other hand is one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport, with an eye pleasing aggressive style. He seemed to find his groove last time out, against Shion Tamada, and he'll want to build on that performance, which was genuinely very impressive. This one really could be a show stealer.
One other bout worthy of some attention will see Hyogo Kimura (6-2-1, 1), who lost in the All Japan final of the Rookie of the Year back in February, taking on the debuting Goki Kobayashi (0-0). Kimura was unfortunate in the Rookie of the Year, and his bout with Ryota Karimata was one of the best bouts on the show. He proved himself to be tough, skilled, and at 20 years old incredibly promising. Kobayashi on the other hand is a 22 year old debutant who fought more than 30 bouts as an amateur and picked up more than 20 wins. Hard to know much about how good Kobayashi is, but in all honest we're glad to see more of Kimura.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
The other Japanese show will come from Tachikawa, and is also expected to be live streamed on the promoters YouTube channel. This is a much smaller show, but is a good example of a Japanese style "small hall" show. None of the bouts are high profile, or feature anyone with exceptionally high ceilings, but the contests should be well matched competitive bouts.
The main event will be a rematch between Shinnosuke Saito (8-3, 2) and Hokuto Matsumoto (6-4, 1), who battled late last year in a very competitive 8 rounder. Last time around Saito took a razor thin split decision and we expect a super close bout again here. Coming in to this Saito is riding a 5 fight winning run and certainly has some momentum on his side, whilst Matsumoto is struggling for form with just a single win in his last 4, however given how competitive their first bout Matsumoto will come into this believing he can pick up the win.
In the chief support bout the light punching Yoshiki Yamashita (7-3) will be up against the JBC ranked Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4). Coming in to this Yamashita does have some momentum, having won 3 of his last 4, and the 23 year old will know that a win here would put him on the domestic map and help him secure a JBC ranking. As for Saso this will be his first fight since being stopped by Masataka Taniguchi, in what was a Japanese title fight last year. Whilst this is not a huge bout, we do expect it to be a very competitive one.
Another former Japanese title challenger on this show is Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-3, 9), who is in dire need of a win having gone 1-3-1 in his last 5. Whilst Ikeda is a former Japanese title challenger he will probably be the under-dog here, as he takes on the heavy handed Hayato Ono (8-4, 8). Kato is a stop or be stopped fighter, and he will be looking to bomb out Ikeda and get his own career back on track. We are not expecting high level boxing here and we're also not expecting the judges to be needed.
One final bout worthy of note for those tuning in is a match up between Dominique Kenshin (5-2, 2) and Shogo Sakai (7-6-3, 5). Kenshin reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final last year, and whilst not a great fighter the 20 year old has got ambitions to compete at the domestic title scene. He is a crude heavy handed, and chinny fighter so his fights are always worth tuning in to. Sakai is also heavy handed, but hasn't been seen in the ring since 2017, and now aged 32 he can ill afford any more set backs with his career.
The One Boxing Stadium, Seoul, South Korea
As well as the action in Japan we're also set to get a small show in South Korea. The main event here will see Kook Min Moon (7-1-1, 5) battle against Tae Sun Kim (5-1-1, 2) for the KBM Super Featherweight title. For both men this is a huge opportunity to win their first title, though it feels like it's a bigger chance for the 21 year old Moon who is more active than Kim and appears to be the man with more ambition in the sport. Saying that however a win for Kim would see him being given a massive boost and potentially begin his move towards bigger and better international fights.